Seven out of the eight Australian state and territory leaders have called for the termination of the British monarchical rule over Australia and the formation of a republic in the country.
The leaders signed a declaration calling for an Australian head of state to replace the reigning royal in London on the eve of the Australia Day, which is the national day of Australia and marks the start of British settlement.
The country is a constitutional monarchy, with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Despite having a largely ceremonial role, the monarch does have the power to dissolve the parliament in Australia.
“It’s well past time for Australia to become a sovereign nation,” said South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, who signed the declaration. “Any self-respecting, independent country would aspire to select one of its own citizens as its head of state.”
Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett, the only state leader who did not sign the declaration, said he, too, backed a republic but just did not think “the time is right.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who headed the Australian Republican Movement in the 1990s, also supported the declaration.
“My commitment to Australia having an Australian head of state is undiminished,” Turnbull said in a statement. He had previously said the issue was not a priority and had ruled out a national vote during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Polls in recent years have shown varying support for a republic, with most revealing a majority of the public being in favor.
Australia held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, which failed by 45 percent to 55, with republicans attributing that to the fact that the poll divided voters on how best to select the head of state.